China-Bahamas fishing talks alarm Florida officials – FlKeysNews.com
Florida wildlife officials expressed concern Wednesday that the government of the Bahamas is in talks with China to split fishing rights in waters east of Florida.
State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley said the potential deal, as reported, could impact Florida’s commercial and sport-fishing industries.
“China, their interests in this, would get exclusive access to fisheries in Bahamian waters,” Wiley said. “A lot of people may not realize this, but the boundary between the United States waters and Bahamian waters is still in dispute. It’s still not been clarified, so that further makes this an issue.”
The government of the Bahamas hasn’t released details of the negotiations.
The Nassau Guardian newspaper has reported that the government of the Bahamas has given the green light to its embassy in Beijing to pursue agricultural and fishing partnerships with China. The proposal reportedly could bring $2.1 billion in cash, along with agricultural and farming equipment, into the Bahamian economy, over 10 years.
The proposal by the Bahamian government, according to the Guardian, states: “While realization of a reasonable return on an investment in agriculture is a relatively slow process, requiring substantial capitalization over many years, participating companies in the initiative will within months of commencement of operations realize positive cash flow from the sale of seafood.”
Under the reported terms of the deal, the government would lease to 100 companies — each jointly owned by Chinese and Bahamians shareholders — 10,000 acres in Andros Island, along with fishing licenses.
“It is anticipated that the agricultural products and the seafood will be used either for local consumption or will be exported to China or the U.S.A. for sale,” the proposal says. “The management of participating companies will resolve to do what is in their best interest.”
Commercial fishing for conch,